- Calvin Watkins, ESPN.com
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DALLAS -- When the Houston Rockets visit the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of this series Friday night, Jason Terry enters as a wily veteran with a NBA championship ring on his finger and a foreshadowing tattoo of the Larry O'Brien Trophy on his leg.
It seems a lifetime ago when Terry was the starting point guard for the Mavericks, facing the Rockets in the 2005 playoffs.
Terry, then in his sixth season, was getting beaten up by Bob Sura.
Avery Johnson, the coach of the Mavs at the time, had a heart-to-heart with Terry. Since then, Terry has turned into a playoff force.
“I was going up against Bobby Sura and that first game he physically wore me out and I wasn't ready,” Terry said of that 2005 series. “I wasn’t ready until I went back and watched film and Avery Johnson gave me a one-on-one conversation and he showed it to me on tape and [said], 'Do you see the level where you got to play at? Now do it.' It didn’t happen. In Game 2 I was still a little shook but in Game 3 and 4 I turned it around and in Game 7 we ended it.”
He finished Game 7 with a series-clinching 31 points and while the Mavericks didn’t win the title that season, it set the tone for what Terry has become now: veteran. Mentor. Key contributor.
“He’s been a great veteran to our team, a great voice in the locker room, a great voice on the court wherever it may be,” Dwight Howard said. “He‘s been consistent all year. He’s done an excellent job bringing myself and James [Harden] closer as teammates and also as leaders of this team.”
During his career, Terry turned into a major player in the two Mavericks NBA Finals runs. Early in the 2010-11 season, Terry got a tattoo of the NBA championship trophy on his leg while the Mavericks were on a road trip. Outside of his teammates, Terry didn’t tell many about the tat. He just had a feeling the Mavs would win a title that season.
And after the Mavericks did win a title, becoming the first team to knock of the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and the rest of the Miami Heat, Mavs owner Mark Cuban said Terry would have a front-office job once he retired.
“Sounds good, sounds good, until I'm done and that’s the key, I’m not done yet,” Terry said. “A lot of basketball left in me and it starts with Game 1, I'm just excited to be in the playoffs and have a realistic shot and so we are here.”
When the Rockets acquired Terry from Sacramento prior to the start of the season, the objective was to provide a veteran with playoff experience for a team seeking a deep playoff run. Terry has played in 95 postseason games, averaging 16.4 points while shooting 45 percent from the field. In his career, Terry averages 25.3 points per 100 possessions.
In the first two games of this series, Terry is averaging 12 points while making 69 percent of his shots.
With starting point guard Patrick Beverley recovering from wrist surgery, Terry has taken over the point and isn’t shying away from his responsibilities.
“How ironic, 10 years ago, I was the starting point guard for the Dallas Mavericks against Houston in the series and now again I’m the starting point guard for the Rockets, it is ironic,” Terry said. “But it is something that I’ve always prepared myself for and I’m ready for the task at hand and good thing we got a good group around me so it ain’t just me by myself. So I’m prepared.”
It seems a lifetime ago when Jason Terry was the starting point guard for the Mavericks, facing the Rockets in the 2005 playoffs.